Finally! From FIJI, The Isles of Smiles!

I am sorry for the delay. We just returned from visiting my husband’s traditional village on the island of Vanua Levu. Located about 1 and ½ hours up the Hibiscus Highway from Savusavu, Naweni Village is a picture postcard of island life. Nestled on a white sandy beach against a blue lagoon, the village offers its people a bountiful harvest of fresh fish, crab and lobster. The surrounding forest provides mandarins, limes, papayas, kumquats and mangoes.

No electricity makes life simple, but difficult to send recipes via the internet! Thank you for your patience. I hope you think these dishes are worth the wait and that you enjoy them as much as we do! If you get to visit Fiji, give us a call! We are in the phone book!

S. Kabakoro

Here are some traditional Fijian dishes. The first one is island style fish salad, while the second is a traditional Indian curry brought to Fiji by our hard-working Indian brothers and sisters during the Girmit over 100 years ago.
The Mango dessert is modern but helps soothe the burn after the spicy curry.
I hope you enjoy these dishes and send all of you a BIG BULA from Fiji, The Isles of Smiles!

Coconut Fish Kokoda (Appetizer)

1 loin (2 cups) of fresh, FRESH raw tuna or similar fish (NO BONES)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (lemon will also work)
1 teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup fresh grated coconut (fresh is best but desiccated will work)
2 cups coconut milk (fresh is best but canned will work)
2 teaspoons of sugar
The following Ingredients are optional but we make it with everything!
1/8 cup sliced red chilis
1/4 cup sliced red, green and yellow pepper
1/4 cup chopped green/spring onion
1/4 cup diced pineapple (fresh is best but unsweetened canned will work)
1/4 cup chopped white or purple onion
1/4 cup sliced or diced celery
1/4 cup toasted cashew halves

Slice or cube the fish according to your preference. (We like it both ways.) In a small bowl pour the lemon juice over the fish. Mix well and allow it to sit in the fridge for 5 minutes. This “cooks” the fish.
While the fish is “cooking” in the fridge, cube, chop, dice, slice, (according to your preference) and get the other ingredients ready.
(If you want to make your own coconut milk, buy three small to medium husked coconuts and drop them in your driveway to crack them open. Take the firm white flesh out and drop it in your blender with 1 1/2 cups of very hot water and blend for 3 minutes. Strain and squeeze through a cheese-cloth. Squeeze hard to extract as much milk as you can. Set aside ¼ cup of the fresh coconut. Measure out 2 cups of coconut milk and set aside.)
Mix salt and sugar into coconut milk.
Strain fish and mix coconut milk into fish.
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Chill thoroughly.
Serve in a chilled, hollowed out pineapple, on lettuce leaves or in seafood cups.

Blazing Yellow Chicken (Entrée)

1 whole chicken (chopped into bite size pieces. (You may use skinless, boneless chicken pieces if you prefer.)
4 tablespoons of clarified butter (ghee) or 3 tablespoons mustard oil
4 small to medium onions diced, sliced or chopped according to your preference
8 diced cloves of garlic
1 diced small thumb-sized piece of ginger grated
2 to 4 red chilis ( large ones not bird’s-eye) quartered (yu may seed them and discard the seeds to minimize the “burn” but we like them!
1 to 2 tablespoons turmeric (haldi)
1 large cinnamon stick or 2 small ones
1 teaspoon dried red chili powder (more or less to taste
3 cardamom pods cracked open and small seeds set aside for roasting.
Roast following spices one at a time. (See below for instructions.)
1 teaspoon cumin seed (jeera)
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 cup water

Heat a small cast iron skillet and add spices separately, one at a time. Stir spice until it begins to emit an aroma or pops as with seeds. Grind immediately after roasting using a mortar and pestle. This sounds like a hassle but there really is no substitute for this. Some people use packaged spices and omit the roasting but you end up with a different dish altogether.

Heat ghee or oil in large heavy pot. Add garlic, onion, chili and ginger and cook, stirring until garlic turns dark brown. Gourmands always say “don’t burn the garlic” but we think it gives this dish added flavour to really get it good and dark brown.

Add the spices and fry them for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
Add the chicken pieces and stir until coated with the yellowish spice mix.
Pour water over. Bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 45 minutes, checking frequently and stirring.
Halfway through, remove the lid to reduce liquid. Some people like it with a lot of gravy and others like it “dry.” We like it in-between.

Garnish with fresh red chili, sliced red pepper, coconut, peanuts, raisins etc… Serve over Basmati rice.

Apple Mango Sorbet with Mint (Dessert)

Peel, seed and chop 6 large mangoes
Place mango in blender
Add 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup apple cider
½ teaspoon cornstarch.
Blend until creamy.
Pour into shallow dish or pan and freeze for 1 hour.
Beat until creamy and freeze until firm.
Using a spoon, scrape out and place in chilled champagne flutes.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves.